Streaming Gets Big Bump During Coronavirus Quarantines, Nielsen Says

Spenser Confidential - Publicity Still - H 2020
Netflix

Use of Netflix, YouTube and other streaming platforms has mushroomed during the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Nielsen.

Time spent on streaming platforms grew by 34 percent over two weeks at the beginning of March, with collective usage going from 116.4 billion minutes the week of March 2 to 156.1 billion in the week of March 16. That outpaces the 25 percent gains in total TV usage during those weeks. 

The total for March 16-22 was more than double that of the same week in 2019.

"Streaming is a big part of a lot of consumers' lives right now. We have seen a tremendous growth in just how much streaming is going on over the last few weeks as COVID-19 becomes more prevalent across many parts of the country," said Scott N. Brown, head of TV product at Nielsen. "The amount of time viewers are spending streaming more than doubled in the past year alone, and it's nearly a quarter of the total time spent on TV among homes that have the ability to stream."

Streaming as a percentage of total TV usage has remained fairly consistent over the past month, averaging 22 percent of viewing time in streaming-capable homes. That's up from 14 percent over the same period in 2019.

Brown noted that while TV news viewing has also spiked during the pandemic, "at some point, [viewers] are going to want to get away from the outside world and take a break. That is the real magic of streaming, being in control of what you watch entirely and being taken away from where you are — that's the power that entertainment gives consumers and during these times, that power is invaluable."

Netflix claimed the biggest share of any single streaming platform during the week of March 16, claiming 29 percent of the total (about 45.4 billion minutes). YouTube accounted for 20 percent of streaming time, followed by Hulu (10 percent) and Amazon (9 percent). Nielsen lumps all other streamers, including Disney+ and CBS All Access, into an "other" group, which made up 31 percent of the total in the week of March 16. That group topped Netflix in minutes streamed for the first time in the past four weeks.

Netflix and Hulu's share of the market was down from the same week a year ago, when they stood at 36 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The "other" group had the biggest growth, rising from 23 percent last year, while Amazon (up 2 percentage points) and YouTube (up 1 point) saw slight increases.

The Netflix movie Spenser Confidential was the most-viewed program on streaming in the week of March 16, with users spending 1.25 billion minutes on the Mark Wahlberg-led drama. (Streaming platforms have long said Nielsen's data is incomplete as it doesn't measure viewing devices other than TV sets or outside the U.S.) Five other original programs — Netflix's On My Block (1.14 billion minutes), Love Is Blind (872 million), The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez (572 million) and Altered Carbon (425 million) and Amazon's Hunters (612 million) — make the top 10. The Office on Netflix was second overall with 1.23 billion minutes streamed; other acquired shows in the top 10 are Criminal Minds, Grey's Anatomy and NCIS.